Photo by PREPA
Credit To Prepa Facebook

Circuit Breaker Fire Knocks out Power to Puerto Rico

April 7, 2022
According to Luma Energy, a fire near the 230 kW Costa Sur power plant outside Guayanilla is to blame for the outage.

A power outage affecting at least a half million people may not be repaired until Friday, according to Luma Energy, power grid operator on the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico.

According to Luma Energy, a fire near the 230 kW Costa Sur power plant outside Guayanilla is to blame for the outage. About 80,000 people have had their power restored so far, according to the Puerto Rico governor’s office.

“Fault in the output breaker of Unit #5 of Costa Sur at 230kv caused the output of units 5 and 6 of the Central. The electrical system protection system took the rest of the units that were generating out of service,” according to a post on Twitter by PREPA.

The governor’s office said the outage also shut down water service to about 100,000 people. Hospitals and schools have also been shut down temporarily, according to reports.

Utility officials at PREPA said Thursday the circuit breaker fire sparked Wednesday morning, which triggered a series of system shut-downs that affected the whole island’s grid. PREPA is looking into the causes of the blackout to determine whether the system functioned as designed.

Luma, a joint venture of Canada’s ATCO and Houston-based engineering firm Quanta Services, took over the transmission and distribution of electricity in Puerto Rico in June 2021. The Puerto Rican power grid still has many operational problems stemming from the impact of Hurricane Maria in September 2017, a streak of fires and blackouts have occurred after Luma’s take-over. This includes a similar incident June 20, 2021 at the Monacillos Substation, where a transformer explosion caused grid failures for several regions of the island.

The Costa Sur Power Plant, whose substation fire caused this week’s blackouts, was also damaged in the 2019-2020 Puerto Rico earthquakes in an incident that knocked out power to an estimated 327,000 people and caused extensive damage to the facility.

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